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NETGEAR WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Premium Edition Reviewed

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N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Premium Edition
At a glance
ProductNETGEAR WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Premium Edition   [Website]
SummaryHigh performance dual-band, dual-radio 802.11n router with bandwidth metering external USB drive and printer sharing w/ UPnP AV / DLNA media server, 'cloud' file access and completely new admin GUI.
Pros• Revamped user interface
• Many new features including printer sharing and remote file access
Cons• Lower routing speed than WNDR3700v2

Typical Price: $180  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Overview

If you're looking to buy a NETGEAR router, you're faced with a lot of choices. NETGEAR groups its routers into four categories: Simple Sharing; Work and Play; High Performance; and Ultimate Performance. The chart below (Figure 1, courtesy of NETGEAR) shows a category / feature matrix.

NETGEAR router category comparison

Figure 1: NETGEAR router category comparison

In this review, we'll be looking at the new features found in the WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Premium Edition, which falls into NETGEAR's High Performance category.

Tim's previous coverage covered the 3800's routing and wireless performance and touched lightly on its features. In this review, I'll be covering the new features including the Genie Interface, Live Parental Control, CD-less installation and ReadySHARE USB storage and printer sharing capabilities.

Before diving into the review, I thought it might be useful to help decode some of NETGEAR's nomenclature, which I first found confusing. Most of NETGEAR's routers also have a designation of Nxxx, such as N150, N300, etc. So here's a magic decoder ring.

First, you'll notice that all of their routers with Nxxx designation are in increments of 150. 150 Mbps is the link rate or PHY rate for a single 802.11n stream. With that in mind, here are the rest of the N's.

20 MHz mode
max. link rate
(Mbps)
40 MHz mode
max. link rate
(Mbps)
Notes
N150 65 150 Single band, single stream
N300 130 300 Single band, dual stream.Some dual stream routers may employ three antennas. But the third antenna only enhances receive gain, which can help improve range.
N450 217 450 Single band, three stream.This type has three antennas with a transmit / receive channel per antenna.
N600 130 300 Simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz) with dual-stream N.
N750 217 450 Simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz). One band supports two-stream N, the other three stream. You need to read the spec carefully to determine which one supports which.
N900 217 450 Simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz) with three-stream N on both bands.
Table 1: NETGEAR's "N" designations

Note that your wireless client must support the same number of streams in order to achieve the maximum link rates. Some lower-priced netbooks and notebooks support only single-stream N. Most support two-stream, with three stream N harder to find. Again, you must read your specs carefully!

Setup

The first thing that you'll notice about the WNDR3800 is that there is no installation CD. The reason is that NETGEAR is the first manufacturer to realize that CD/DVD ROM drives are becoming scarcer as the world moves to netbooks, ultrabooks, tablets and Wi-Fi enabled smart phones. Some households might not have a computer with a drive at all!

Initially, I thought that a lack of a CD might cause some installation problems. Happily, I was wrong. NETGEAR has designed a way to do away with CD-based installation wizards entirely.

By following the six steps in printed Installation Guide, you'll connect to your router in just a few minutes. NETGEAR supplies a yellow Ethernet cable that plugs into the yellow internet port on your router. The cable is even labeled "Plug into your Modem" on one end and "Plug into your router" on the other end.

Once you power up the router, you merely type http://routerlogin.net and you're redirected to the web interface on the router. You don't have to type in an IP address such as 192.168.1.1, though that's the default address for the router.

If you prefer to connect wirelessly, by default, the WNDR3800 is preconfigured with a unique SSID (Network Name) and a unique Network Key. This information appears both on a label on the bottom of the router as well as on the protective plastic film on the top of the router. Note that the same WPA passphrase is used for both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

You can either manually configure your wireless connection using this supplied information, or you can press the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button on the front of the router and use the WPS feature of your wireless client.

http://routerlogin.net takes you to the home page shown in Figure 2. Here, you'll get your first glimpse at NETGEAR's new "Genie" interface. At the top of the screen, there are Basic and Advanced tabs. Below the Basic tab, there are menu selections that correspond to the six status icons that appear on the right side of the screen. Most users will never need to click on the Advanced options, as the major features are accessible from the basic interface.

Basic interface home page

Figure 2: Basic interface home page



Related Items:

NETGEAR Announces Cloud-Connected Router
NETGEAR Releases Free Router Control Apps
New To The Charts: NETGEAR WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Ro
NETGEAR Upgrades Router App With AirPrint Support
SmallNetBuilder Giveaway: NETGEAR WNDR3800

User reviews

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Average user rating from: 12 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

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Overall: 
 
3.0 Features :
 
3.4 Performance :
 
2.8 Reliability :
 
2.7
 
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Great Refurb Netgear WNDR3800 and firmware upg v1.0.0.44

Overall rating: 
 
4.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by Himadri
December 21, 2013
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Bought refurb Netgear WNDR3800 and upgraded to latest firmware v1.0.0.44. Added it as an AP into existing home network (by enabling "Wireless AP" mode) with older main router Netgear WNDR3700v2 (with wireless off). Summarily, all wired and wireless to the WNDR3800 perform very well, especially very responsive start/stop/forward/rewind on HD streaming videos over wireless with both local DLNA and remote Netflix/YouTube etc. Great upgrade to my home network.

 

Works great for me!

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Jeff Jones
October 05, 2013
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Even with 3-4 users at a time this router has always worked very well. It's not hard to setup and I don't even think about it when using it, which is the way it should be.

 

Very useless router

Overall rating: 
 
2.0
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by mr
December 30, 2012
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OK, it has a lot of features, but... the most important ones are useless. I have a brand new sony vaio laptop in my hands that I can not connect to the 2.4GHz AP. The router is totally worthless to me due to this. I was able to connect to other access points with the laptop - no problem. There is limited 5GHz support in consumer products so I guess I wont be using that.
There seems to be a problem getting DNS info from the router. I can see the router and internal network, just can't get outside. I have seen many reports like this for this router. I would recommend you buy something else.

 

Huge Disappointment, Unreliable, Hard to Configure, Drops-out Often

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by M Thomas
December 26, 2012
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We have found this router to be exceptionally unreliable.

1) It needs to be rebooted daily, as it drops-out from the network on a daily basis. In order to "reset" this router, sometimes it could be done remotely via computer, but often we had to physically do a hard reset by unplugging it and replugging it back in. We were always losing connection to internet and our computer. (I actually ran an ethernet cable from the printer to our desks so that we could print when we lost connection without losing documents.) Sad that this router was so unreliable. (I say "was" because we are no longer using it.)

2) We have a couple of computers here at home, so we tried to run one on the 5g network and the other one on the older band. Plus an iPad. If we used all three devices at the same time, at least one of them has "issues" connecting. This expensive router is supposed to be able to handle the traffic, but obviously cannot! Huge disappointment.

3) Even it this router was any good, which is it NOT, it took several hours to configure. The firmware it came with was outdated and could not detect a Sony Vaio 2010 Windows 7 computer or a Mac Book Pro 2011 Mountain Lion computer until full firmware updates, and lots of reconfiguring. And we had lost our port settings many times while we tried to use it.

In conclusion, we reverted back to our older Linksys router and are happy with it. We were amazed that for the cost of this so-called highly rated Netgear router, it does so little and was so unreliable.

The user reviews on cNet are right when most of them say this router is not worth buying and has huge reliability issues.

 

Features, performance and reliability - from v34 firmware

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Kurt
August 11, 2012
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Maybe everybody else kept using the v18 firmware ? Dunno.

Mine came with v18 and I immediately upgraded to v34.

If I had a complaint it would be a nit - it takes a while to boot !

Other than that - features: TimeMachine, easy to use UI, secured & unsecured networks . . . without any Tomato or DD-WRT open source upgrades.

Made my home network noticeably snappier, too.

 
 
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